Functional Medicine – Alzheimer’s
Looking for a Magic Bullet Alzheimer’s Treatment
As a society, we’re always looking for that magic bullet. This rings particularly true when it comes to health. We want a miracle cure for diseases that we’ve been told are incurable, like Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s affects 5.8 million Americans – including one in ten people aged 65 and older. This number is only set to rise, with researchers estimating that 16.8 million people in that age bracket will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.
Again and again, we see pharmaceutical companies declaring they’ve struck gold. People get their hopes up. Families believe an end is in sight. But these so-called treatments never come to fruition. They fail, and too many people get hurt along the way.
As a neurologist and functional medicine doctor, I carefully follow the rises and falls of these magic bullets. I am always hopeful, but cautiously so. I want my patients to thrive in the here and now.
Here’s why we need to stop looking for the miracle Alzheimer’s treatment and start investing in proven, time-tested pathways to well-being and vitality.
Case study: Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug faces a major setback
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been used to fund failed clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease treatments. Recently, all eyes have been on pharmaceutical company Biogen.
Biogen had been developing a compound called aducanumab. It was studied in three trials, one of which undeniably failed. Another, according to an initial report, also failed thanks to a statistic known as a futility analysis. Everything pointed to another false-hope, another potential treatment down the tubes. But Biogen wasn’t done.
The company performed a re-evaluation of the study data, concluding that aducanumab showed promise in at least one of the trials. So, they proceeded.
Biogen organized an independent group to assess the clinical trial data and report their recommendations to the FDA, which would then ultimately decide whether or not the drug would be approved. News that aducanumab would be submitted to the FDA for consideration was enough for the industry to start thinking that this was it – this was the magic bullet.
Further, two days before the meeting, Biogen released a report that claimed aducanumab was “the beginning of a new era of potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”
“The FDA’s acceptance of the aducanumab BLA with Priority Review is an important step in the path to potentially having a treatment that meaningfully changes the course of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Michel Vounatsos, Chief Executive Officer at Biogen.
What happened next? Biogen’s stock skyrocketed by 40 percent in one day. The SEC Commissioner even halted the trading of Biogen on the day of the meeting to prevent it from blowing up.
But to everyone’s surprise, seven out of eight of the independent committee members recommended against the drug’s approval. Aducanumab was yet another failure.
FDA’s statistical reviewer, Tristan Massie, wrote that “there is no compelling substantial evidence of treatment effect.”
When trading reopened the following week, Biogen’s stocks were at a 12-month low.
The FDA has until March 2021 to approve the drug, and they are not obliged to follow the recommendations of their advisors. Biogen isn’t going to give up on aducanumab without a fight, either.
Let’s say the drug is approved. Even then, the cost threshold would be significant. Annually, it could cost in excess of $360 billion to treat all suitable
Alzheimer’s patients in the US – or about one-third of the $1.2 trillion 2019 spend on Medicare.
Single-faceted, fix-all drugs don’t fit within the treatment model I promote. There is no one cause of a disease – there are many. Every person is an individual with quirks and habits, and they should be guided on a journey toward health accordingly.
We can learn from the aducanumab case study, which is by no means unique. Until we, as a society, are willing to open ourselves up to understanding the root causes of illnesses; to treating the person and not the disease; to taking a patient-centered approach, even if that means walking the slow road, we are not going to see an improvement.
That’s what the functional medicine process is all about. It’s not a cure or magic bullet treatment; it’s a journey that takes dedication and hard work.
But when we commit to addressing every aspect of a person’s health, we can save people money and change their lives.
Here at Sharlin Health and Neurology, we already have solutions – time-tested solutions that have helped hundreds of patients with Alzheimer’s and other illnesses regain control of their health’s trajectory.
We’re not in the clinical trial phase; we’ve been running our Brain Tune-Up! Program for five years now. The world of academic medicine is finally catching up. People like Dr. Richard Isaacson from Cornell, who opened his Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic in 2013, are moving forward with a holistic approach.
Treating the person – not the disease
Treating Alzheimer’s and other chronic illnesses means looking at the individual as a whole. At Sharlin Health and Neurology, my incredible team and
I provide holistic, patient-tailored treatment plans through our Brain Tune-Up! Program.
If you’re looking for guidance on nutrition or want health coaching, we have you covered. Our expert dietician and wellness experts can build a personalized roadmap that sees you for you – not just for your illness.
We also have industry-first fitness programs – offered as one-on-one or small group training sessions – designed specifically to meet the needs of people with neurological conditions.
When you come to us, you come for a reason: to better the quality of your life. We are here to give you every tool and every opportunity to make that dream a reality. Our systems are backed by scientific evidence, too, so you can have total peace of mind.
Request your free consultation
Stop holding out for the magic bullet Alzheimer’s treatment. Instead, start your journey toward health and happiness today.
Find out if our Brain Tune-Up! Program is right for you by requesting your free consultation with Callie.